November is a time of dark and change around here. This weekend I finally gathered the Tonka trucks from the beach at the pond and brought them up by the house. A simple act, but there seemed to be such a finality to it: summer, and the warm colorful days of fall are over, and ahead there is cold and wind and ice and darkness. The winds blew in from the northwest last night, bringing with them snow and taking away the warmth in the air.
November is a time to look to the past or the present moment, not to look ahead. In the past is the successful garden year, the memories of warm sun and wildflowers and blue skies. In the present is a warm fire in the wood stove, canned goods, and music to brighten up the dark evenings. But the future from November's perspective is grim: at least five months of cold, wind chills, blizzards, and being holed up indoors. Winter solstice is still over a month away; the days continue to shorten, and stay short until after the holidays.
I received my first seed catalog in the mail yesterday, from Pinetree Seeds. Even that seemed out of place; a reminder of the garden season to come, which is still many months away. I just planted garlic a couple of weeks ago. That act too seemed to go against my instincts. There is a time to reap, and a time to sow, and November is the pause after the reaping. We are still eating tomatoes from the garden, probably the latest I have ever enjoyed fresh ripe tomatoes.
The chickens are beginning to lay eggs; that is one thing to celebrate. I cleaned out the chicken house yesterday and we put down fresh hay in the nest boxes and on the floor. The meat chickens are still alive; I was hoping to stay home one day this week and learn butchering first hand, but that will have to wait until a milder day.
The feeder has been active with bands of chickadees, up to ten of them at a time flitting between the feeder and the branches of the dead spruce. There have also been many goldfinches, juncos, purple finches, white-breasted and red-breasted nuthatches, an occasional pine siskin, blue jays, and downy woodpeckers. The Hermit has heard evening grosbeaks in the trees but so far none at the feeder. I don't get to enjoy the feeder much during the week; it is almost too dark in the morning when I leave for work and way too dark when I get home.
I am eagerly scanning the bare branches of trees on my drive to and from work, hoping to see if any great gray owls return for the winter. According to a message on the MOU listserv, one has been seen in the next county, and often when there is an irruption one year it will be followed by an "echo effect" the following year. I have seen an occasional bald eagle, red tailed hawk, and rough legged hawk (which I finally learned how to identify--I think).
Not too much going on, just November stuff.